“1I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ.” Colossians 2:1-2 NIV
It is clear that Paul has not yet met the people in Colossae nor the ones in Laodicea. Why does it matter? He’s is writing to them (and also wrote a letter to Laodicea – see Colossians 4:16) and is revealing that he is “contending” for them. The word “contending” means to struggle. It is what we would call contending in prayer as he writes. What is he struggling about with them in prayer? Why would he be doing so?
I believe the answer to all those questions is in the content that he is about to share. There are depths of relationship in our Lord Jesus that are very difficult to state in words on paper. When we are with people who walk in those depths, then we can in Spirit begin to see and understand those depths. Words do not convey adequately – Spirit does in the words. Without the breath of the Holy Spirit, we will not understand what is being said. This is so true of most of Scripture. The words on paper do not adequately convey the same things that Spirit through person is able to reveal. The proof of that is how many of us have read and read these passages and have never understood what is here.
So, Paul is struggling about how to share with them, and in his prayers with them, he is struggling for them. He does not want them left out of what he is saying.
“My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart…” is Paul’s heart revealed to them. He has a goal in mind and some understandings he wants to impart. The word used in the KJV here is “comforted.” The word in Greek holds both meanings, and the word can be interpreted either way. Encouraged is the better word here I believe. He wants them built up in their innermost being – their heart. “…and united in love,” both must be in place. Usually, if a person is united in love with a body of believers, they will be encouraged. That is one of the most important things for us in a body of believers. This calls for us to be joined to a fellowship closely. (Discussion of that concept will wait for another post).
“So that…” is what the NIV says and it carries the appropriate meaning. The word in Greek is most generally translated “into.” “So that they may have the…” When we are encouraged and knit together with believers, then we are presented with open doors of understanding that cannot be received nor known to those living without fellowship and as islands unto themselves. Notice what door is opened, or what the people in Colossae will be put “into,” – “the full riches of complete understanding,” then there is another “into” the knowledge (full-experiential knowledge) of the mystery of God, namely Christ.”
In other words, Paul wants them to know that being encouraged and knit together opens doors of full riches of the mutual understanding of the full experimental knowledge of the mystery of God, namely the mystery of Christ in us that was mentioned in 1:27.
Christ in us is much more than we have ever dreamed. He has riches of indwelling glory and many such things – experiential knowledge of this mystery, which has no words. It will take our lifetime to explore and discover – in love and Spirit.
I pray your interest is sufficient to read and begin to receive and discover. I too must struggle with you and pray that the Spirit Himself begins to unfold, unveil, and discover for you the riches, intimacies, and indescribable joys that await each of us who will choose to follow the fullness of this Colossian’s Word.